[ noun, adjective suhb-jikt; verb suhb-jekt ]
See synonyms for: subjectsubjectedsubjectingsubjects on

  1. that which forms a basic matter of thought, discussion, investigation, etc.: a subject of conversation.

  2. a branch of knowledge as a course of study: He studied four subjects in his first year at college.

  1. a motive, cause, or ground: a subject for complaint.

  2. the theme of a sermon, book, story, etc.

  3. the principal melodic motif or phrase in a musical composition, especially in a fugue.

  4. an object, scene, incident, etc., chosen by an artist for representation, or as represented in art.

  5. a person who is under the dominion or rule of a sovereign.

  6. a person who owes allegiance to a government and lives under its protection: Swedish subjects are guaranteed access to equal education in childhood.

  7. Grammar. (in many languages, such as English) one of the two main parts of a sentence, containing a noun or pronoun and all of its modifiers, which generally refers to the one performing an action, experiencing a condition, or being in a state expressed by a verb: for example, Our best employee in Our best employee gave notice, or He in He is still here.: Compare predicate (def. 1).

  8. a person or thing that undergoes or may undergo some action: As a dissenter, he found himself the subject of the group's animosity.

  9. a person or thing under the control or influence of another.

  10. a person as an object of medical, surgical, or psychological treatment or experiment.

  11. a cadaver used for dissection.

  12. Logic. that term of a proposition concerning which the predicate is affirmed or denied.

  13. Philosophy.

    • that which thinks, feels, perceives, intends, etc., as contrasted with the objects of thought, feeling, etc.

    • the self or ego.

  14. Metaphysics. that in which qualities or attributes inhere; substance.

  1. being under domination, control, or influence (often followed by to).

  2. being under dominion, rule, or authority, as of a sovereign, state, or some governing power; owing allegiance or obedience (often followed by to).

  1. open or exposed (usually followed by to): subject to ridicule.

  2. being dependent or conditional upon something (usually followed by to): His consent is subject to your approval.

  3. being under the necessity of undergoing something (usually followed by to): All beings are subject to death.

  4. liable; prone (usually followed by to): subject to headaches.

verb (used with object)
  1. to bring under domination, control, or influence (usually followed by to).

  2. to bring under dominion, rule, or authority, as of a conqueror or a governing power (usually followed by to).

  1. to cause to undergo the action of something specified; expose (usually followed by to): to subject metal to intense heat.

  2. to make liable or vulnerable; lay open; expose (usually followed by to): to subject oneself to ridicule.

  3. Obsolete. to place beneath something; make subjacent.

Origin of subject

First recorded in 1275–1325; (adjective) from Latin subjectus “placed beneath, inferior, open to inspection,” originally the past participle of subicere “to throw or place beneath, make subject,” replacing Middle English suget, from Old French; (noun) from Late Latin subjectum “grammatical or dialectical subject,” replacing Middle English suget, as above; (verb) from Latin subjectāre, frequentative of subicere

synonym study For subject

1, 4. Subject, theme, topic are often interchangeable to express the material being considered in a speech or written composition. Subject is a broad word for whatever is treated in writing, speech, art, etc.: the subject for discussion. Theme and topic are usually narrower and apply to some limited or specific part of a general subject. A theme is often the underlying conception of a discourse or composition, perhaps not put into words but easily recognizable: The theme of a need for reform runs throughout her work. A topic is the statement of what is to be treated in a section of a composition: The topic is treated fully in this section.

Other words for subject

Other words from subject

  • sub·ject·a·ble, adjective
  • sub·ject·a·bil·i·ty [suhb-jek-tuh-bil-i-tee], /səbˌdʒɛk təˈbɪl ɪ ti/, noun
  • sub·ject·less, adjective
  • sub·ject·like, adjective
  • non·sub·ject, noun, adjective
  • pre·sub·ject, verb (used with object)
  • re·sub·ject, verb (used with object)
  • un·sub·ject, adjective

Words Nearby subject Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use subject in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for subject


    • the predominant theme or topic, as of a book, discussion, etc

    • (in combination): subject-heading

  1. any branch of learning considered as a course of study

  1. grammar logic a word, phrase, or formal expression about which something is predicated or stated in a sentence; for example, the cat in the sentence The cat catches mice

  2. a person or thing that undergoes experiment, analysis, treatment, etc

  3. a person who lives under the rule of a monarch, government, etc

  4. an object, figure, scene, etc, as selected by an artist or photographer for representation

  5. philosophy

    • that which thinks or feels as opposed to the object of thinking and feeling; the self or the mind

    • a substance as opposed to its attributes

  6. Also called: theme music a melodic or thematic phrase used as the principal motif of a fugue, the basis from which the musical material is derived in a sonata-form movement, or the recurrent figure in a rondo

  7. logic

    • the term of a categorial statement of which something is predicated

    • the reference or denotation of the subject term of a statement. The subject of John is tall is not the name John, but John himself

  8. an originating motive

  9. change the subject to select a new topic of conversation

adjective(ˈsʌbdʒɪkt) (usually postpositive and foll by to)
  1. being under the power or sovereignty of a ruler, government, etc: subject peoples

  2. showing a tendency (towards): a child subject to indiscipline

  1. exposed or vulnerable: subject to ribaldry

  2. conditional upon: the results are subject to correction

  1. subject to (preposition) under the condition that: we accept, subject to her agreement

verb(səbˈdʒɛkt) (tr)
  1. (foll by to) to cause to undergo the application (of): they subjected him to torture

  2. (often passive foll by to) to expose or render vulnerable or liable (to some experience): he was subjected to great danger

  1. (foll by to) to bring under the control or authority (of): to subject a soldier to discipline

  2. rare to subdue or subjugate

  3. rare to present for consideration; submit

  4. obsolete to place below

Origin of subject

C14: from Latin subjectus brought under, from subicere to place under, from sub- + jacere to throw
  • Abbreviation: subj

Derived forms of subject

  • subjectable, adjective
  • subjectability, noun
  • subjectless, adjective
  • subject-like, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for subject


A part of every sentence. The subject tells what the sentence is about; it contains the main noun or noun phrase: “The car crashed into the railing”; “Judy and two of her friends were elected to the National Honor Society.” In some cases the subject is implied: you is the implied subject in “Get me some orange juice.” (Compare predicate.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with subject


In addition to the idiom beginning with subject

  • subject to, be

also see:

  • change the subject

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.